TAIPEI, Aug.23 (Reuters) – President Tsai Ing-wen was vaccinated on Monday with the first COVID-19 vaccine developed nationally in Taiwan, giving her personal endorsement as the island begins to deploy the fire which the approval, critics say, was rushed.
The Department of Health last month approved the emergency use of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s COVID-19 vaccine (6547.TWO), as part of a larger inoculation self-sufficiency plan , as delays in vaccine shipments from global pharmaceutical companies have affected Taiwan and many other countries.
Tsai, who had retained the use of vaccines from Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) or AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L), the current mainstay of Taiwan’s vaccination program, received his Medigen vaccine at a central hospital in Taipei, demonstrating confidence in the safety of the vaccine.
Tsai chatted with medical workers as they prepared her photo, the entire process being streamed live on her Facebook page, and briefly answered “no” to a question shouted by reporters about whether she was nervous.
More than 700,000 people have signed up to receive the Medigen vaccine, which requires a second injection 28 days after the first.
The government says the initial experience of the pandemic last year, when basic supplies such as face masks were scarce, made it clear that they had to be able to rely on themselves for essential materials.
Medigen, whose Chinese name literally means ‘high end’, dismisses claims that its vaccine is unsafe or that it has been rushed to the market in excessive haste, saying it is effective and well tested.
“We have done so many experiments, everyone has seen how safe our vaccine is. There are so few side effects, almost no fever and so on. So I think everyone can be reassured, ”Medigen chief executive Charles Chen told Reuters.
The recombinant protein vaccine was developed in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health, and the government has ordered 5 million initial doses. He says no one will be forced to get it.
The vaccine has not yet completed clinical trials and no efficacy data is available, but the government says studies so far have shown that the antibodies created by the vaccine are “not worse than Those created by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, or KMT, has launched a fierce campaign against the shooting, with one of its former vice-presidents, Hau Lung-bin, who filed a lawsuit to invalidate the authorization de Medigen, although a court rejected it last week.
The party says it supports national vaccines, but Medigen’s approval has been rushed.
“The life and health of Taiwanese does not have to serve as white rats in a laboratory,” Ho Chih-yung, deputy head of the KMT’s international department, told Reuters.
About 40% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one injection of one of the two-dose AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines, although less than 5% are fully immunized.
However, unlike other parts of Asia, Taiwan is not under tremendous pressure to speed up its vaccination campaign, as it only records a handful of household infections per day.
Taiwan has so far received more than 10 million doses of the vaccine and in July ordered 36 million additional doses of Moderna. Read more
Report by Fabian Hamacher; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sam Holmes and Jacqueline Wong
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